By Charles Gardner —
Amidst rising antisemitism, there is evidence of a spirit of contrition among many Gentile Christians, whose eyes are being opened to the place of Israel in God’s purposes.
The blindness that once afflicted Israel over their Messiah (Romans 11:8) in due time affected Christians who themselves became blinded to the key role of those who continue to be the “apple of God’s eye” (Zechariah 2:8).
But now the scales are falling off the eyes of both Jew and Gentile. In Israel, there is growing recognition of the significance of Jesus, and indeed of the great wealth of support from the evangelical constituency, especially in America.
Alongside this is the rapidly growing movement of Messianic Jews, both in Israel and abroad. And these Jewish followers of Jesus are making an increasing impact in Israel. Their stand may not be ‘kosher’ among Orthodox Jews, but many practicing and secular Jews have been taking note.
This no doubt includes the likes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a Bible believer who sees the state of Israel as the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy of dry bones coming to life.
All of which suggests that the day long foretold when a great number of Jews will recognize “the one they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10, Romans 11:26) is rapidly approaching.
Meanwhile, I perceive a significant breakthrough in the Gentile Christian world. It was the Puritans of the 17th century who paved the way to renewed understanding of God’s end-time plans for the Jews. Far from being the ‘Christ-killers’ whom God had rejected in the eyes of many church leaders, they recognized how the prophets had clearly foretold of Israel’s restoration – back to their ancient land following worldwide dispersion, and then back to the Lord they had long rejected.
Many societies, such as the Church’s Ministry among Jewish people (CMJ), for whom I volunteer, became convinced of this truth and, through proclamation and advocacy, influenced no less an authority than a British Government that ruled an empire on which the sun never set. That in turn led to Britain’s major role in Israel’s restoration.
In more recent years, however, both the UK Church and Government have largely lost the plot of God’s ultimate intentions for his chosen people. Not surprisingly, this coincided with Britain’s loss of influence in the world (see Genesis 12:3) and her church became dry and ineffective, without the sap emanating from her Judaic roots (Romans 11:17).
But now there are renewed stirrings of the Spirit amid a growing hunger to find out more about our roots.
As an example of what I’m saying, Evangelicals Now, representing the not inconsiderable ‘conservative evangelical’ constituency in the UK, has for the past several years since I began subscribing to the monthly paper largely ignored the Jewish element of our faith.
They seem to have expressed a kind of non-aligned view on the issue akin to that of a great many churches. But in the January 2023 issue, just out, wide coverage has been given to anti-Semitism, the Jews and the church’s relationship with Israel as a whole. It is discussed at length on as many as five pages; tackling the issue headlong in a completely positive light, and in a tone that is repentant and contrite.
A main feature is given over to a chilling history of the institutional church’s hatred for Jews, written by Jewish believer Gary Clayton! This stands alongside the testimony of Haifa-based Messianic pastor Jonathan Arnold, which focuses on how the witness of Christians who love Israel played an essential part in winning his family to the Savior.
And the paper’s editorial concludes: “We recognize that we ourselves have sometimes fallen short in previous years in this area,” adding: “Our hearts go out to all Jewish people who have been so wounded by some who carry the name of Christ…We are sorry where we ourselves have not got things right in this area, and we are resolved to learn and to do better.”
In his feature, Gary poses the suggestion that the cry “his blood be upon us and our children” (Matthew 27:25), attributed to Jews who condemned Jesus to crucifixion – and often since used as justification for their subsequent persecution – was perhaps prophetic in a quite different way.
Was it rather looking forward to the day when the blood of Jesus covered their sins, just as the Passover lamb had freed them from slavery in Egypt?
All this contrition follows the historic service of repentance in Oxford Cathedral earlier this year marking the 800th anniversary of the passing of anti-Jewish laws by the church of the day.
And only last week, parliamentarians stood for a moment’s silence in the British House of Commons on the 80th anniversary of their government’s first public recognition that the Holocaust was taking place (December 17th 1942).
It may be dark outside (in the world), but the light of God’s people is beginning to shine ever brighter!